View Poll Results: Should employers be legally required to provide a reason for firing?

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Thread: Should an employer be legally required to have a reason to fire an employee?

  1. #91
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    Re: Should an employer be legally required to have a reason to fire an employee?

    Your implied exceptions are light years from the rule.

    The relevant question is which entity, the employee or the company, is more greatly negatively impacted as a whole by the firing.

    Just about always that's the employee, and significantly greatly more so.
    I wholeheartedly disagree that that is the "relevent question." The negative impact of a firing, whether it be to the employee, the employer, or both (as is almost always the case), is straying from the point. The point, I think, was whether an employer should have the right to release an employee without a stated reason- which boils down to "who owns the job?" Is it the employee's job, or the employers job? The job ALWAYS belongs to the company that created it. And that company can replace the person holding the position, or delete the position they created, without the input of the employee, or without having to explain to the employee why they are doing so- because it is the company's job. It belongs to the company. It is the property of the company.

    If what you are saying is true, indeed as another poster I just read above has also so stated/implied, then providing no reason for dismissal is the same thing as laying someone off.

    If that's the case, then providing no reason for the dismissal is not firing someone.
    Perhaps. The conversation would probably go like this. "Unfortunately, we are letting you go. Good luck in your further endeavors." That could be contrued as either a lay off or a firing. The result would be exactly the same. The employee would no longer work for the company and they would be entitled to UI benefits. At the point that a termination occurs (and a layoff is a termination) the reason no longer matters unless the company has standing to dispute the UI benefits.

    The employee might understandably not pursue unemployment benefits and the employer would thus not have their unemployment insurance premiums increased.
    Why wouldn't they file for the benefits if the company did not provide a reason? If there was no reason, lathey should go get their benefits. If it was a lay off, they should go get their benefits. The only way a reasonable person would not pursue the benefits is if they know, already, what the reason for the termination was, even if it wasn't explicitly stated. A person, for instance, may have had several run ins with their supervisor regarding their job performance. It may have been that at the last meeting, the supervisor informed the employee that if their performance did not improve, they would be released. When the termination happens, whether the separation notice gives the reason or not, the employee KNEW the reason, and therefore might not waste their time trying to collect UI.

    It thus still seems the right thing from a liberty and justice for all perspective for the employer to tell the truth to the employee as to why the employee is being let go.
    Disgruntled terminated employees have a tendency to be angry. If you give them a reason, it may just be that they try to generate "witnesses" within your office, with the intention of attempting to prove that the reason you gave was invalid. For whatever reason, you, as the employer, decided their services were no longer needed. Why would you create this atmosphere of hostility within your company, opening the basis for your decision up for discussion? There is no more discussion needed. They may also, perhaps if they are a minority, attempt to turn a firing for poor performance into a discrimination case, completely lacking in merit, but time consuming and expensive just the same.

    If you choose to fill out the "reason" section on the separation notice, you better make sure you list ALL the reasons. Not just one. Because even though you are not required to fill it out, if you DO fill it out, you are locked into that being ALL of the information. You can't decide later that there were also other reasons. It just isn't worth it to provide a formal reason.
    Last edited by kamikaze483; 05-03-12 at 05:30 PM.

  2. #92
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    Re: Should an employer be legally required to have a reason to fire an employee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Camlon View Post
    I would agree that employers should be required to give a reason. Problem is, they are scared of lawsuits and will not give the correct reason.

    To force employers to give a reason under current law is pointless. I do think most employers, will at least tell the reason indirectly.
    This. Employers should have a reason, even if the reason is "Your work is fine, I just don't like you", "You're an asshat", or "We think we can get the same production from one less employee". But, the real-world aspect of our litigious society comes in, and I can't blame businesses for not giving a real reason.

    If employers could be shielded from lawsuits I would be open to "forcing"... if that is even possible... employers to give a truthful reason, but as things stand right now, no. I see it as a way to actually help people learn from their flaws/mistakes. A chance to improve themselves for their next job. Whether they are wise enough to take the hint is up to them.

    I don't see the flip-side analogy of an employee quitting as being equally relevant.
    If you claim sexual harassment to be wrong, yet you defend anyone on your side for any reason,
    then you are a hypocrite and everything you say on the matter is just babble.

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    Re: Should an employer be legally required to have a reason to fire an employee?

    I don't see the flip-side analogy of an employee quitting as being equally relevant.
    It is only relevant in that it describes the other side of the "at will" arrangement. The employment arrangement is not binding on the employee, and therefore can not be binding on the employer. That, I think, is the only relevance a couple of us were trying to point out.

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    Re: Should an employer be legally required to have a reason to fire an employee?

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikaze483 View Post
    It is only relevant in that it describes the other side of the "at will" arrangement. The employment arrangement is not binding on the employee, and therefore can not be binding on the employer. That, I think, is the only relevance a couple of us were trying to point out.
    I don't think stating a reason is contradictory to "at will". You could still fire someone at will, you'd just have to state why. The employment is not still not binding on either side.
    If you claim sexual harassment to be wrong, yet you defend anyone on your side for any reason,
    then you are a hypocrite and everything you say on the matter is just babble.

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    Re: Should an employer be legally required to have a reason to fire an employee?

    sure. so long as "because I willed it" is an acceptable reason.

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    Re: Should an employer be legally required to have a reason to fire an employee?

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    I don't think stating a reason is contradictory to "at will". You could still fire someone at will, you'd just have to state why. The employment is not still not binding on either side.
    Although I, honestly, think that the reason is not important- considering the fact that the reason will not (can not) change the result, most companies would have no problem releasing their "reason," if it weren't for one teensy weensy problem: litigation.

    Consider this: Alan owns a trucking company with three trucks and three drivers. Leroy, 74, has driven a truck for Alan for 15 years, averaging about 60K/year in wages during that time. Recently, Leroy was diagnosed with macular degeneration. He is going blind. According to the doctors, his sight will continue to worsen until he is completely blind.

    Because of this, Leroy can no longer drive a truck for Alan (because he can not see to drive.) Leroy's truck route produced 1/3 of Alan's company's income each year. Since Leroy can not drive, Alan is faced with a choice: A) He can terminate Leroy and replace him with a truck driver who has good eyesight, thereby protecting the 1/3 of his income which Leroy's routes generate, or B) he can allow a blind Leroy to remain employed (but obviously not drive, since he is blind). This option would require Alan to hire another driver in addition to Leroy, which (since Leroy makes 60k, and a younger driver could be hired in at 30k) would reduce Alan's profits by 30k each year.

    Because of the substantial loss in profits resulting from option B, Alan chooses to let Leroy go and hire a driver that can actually drive the truck. He sits down with Leroy and explains that he is really sorry, but since Leroy is no longer able to drive the truck, he is being fired. On his separation notice, Alan writes "Employee is terminated due to inability to perform assigned work tasks."

    Leroy, angry with Alan after working with him for 15 years, feels that he has been wronged- that he was being fired because he was aging and no longer able to do the things he used to do. He finds a tort attorney, who promptly sues Alan for discrimination.

    Alan's talks to his attorney, who tells him that because poor eyesight generally comes with old age, Leroy just might have a case- along with the fact that by hiring a younger driver to replace Alan, Alan's profits actually increase by 30k- giving Leroy yet another argument when the trial comes around. So the lawyer's advice to Alan: Hire another 74 year old driver.

    If Alan had not given Leroy the courtesy of providing a reason, his profits would have increased by 30k, and he would have avoided the legal expenses. Leroy was not fired because he was old. He was fired because he couldn't perform his duties. These types of HR/legal nightmares are the reason why employers don't like to provide a reason to the employee.
    Last edited by kamikaze483; 05-03-12 at 08:48 PM.

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    Re: Should an employer be legally required to have a reason to fire an employee?

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill View Post
    sure. so long as "because I willed it" is an acceptable reason.
    How about the old Tuetonic saying, "God Wills It!!" ?

    I think that an employer should be able to fire somebody for a just reason without fear of being sued... if it is legally required for them to do so then, unless they are firing you for a racist reason (for example) then they should be free of any law suit that might result from an angry employee. The employee should have to do what the rest of us do in order to get money for nothing... fake slip on their property and sue them for faulty grounds...
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    Re: Should an employer be legally required to have a reason to fire an employee?

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikaze483 View Post
    I wholeheartedly disagree that that is the "relevent question." The negative impact of a firing, whether it be to the employee, the employer, or both (as is almost always the case), is straying from the point.
    You're right -- this is where we disagree.

    I see keeping a dynamic balance between the freedom and security of both parties, the employer and the employee, to insure the liberty and justice of both parties, of paramount importance in resolving this obvious conflict.

    This holds political bias at bay.


    Quote Originally Posted by kamikaze483 View Post
    The point, I think, was whether an employer should have the right to release an employee without a stated reason- which boils down to "who owns the job?" Is it the employee's job, or the employers job? The job ALWAYS belongs to the company that created it. And that company can replace the person holding the position, or delete the position they created, without the input of the employee, or without having to explain to the employee why they are doing so- because it is the company's job. It belongs to the company. It is the property of the company.
    Your point of reference -- who owns it -- is clearly libertarian. Here, your political persuasion calibrates your perspective.

    If everyone with a preconceived ideological political persuasion did that, we'd never agree on a great method of conflict resolution .. and, come to think of it, they don't all agree, do they?!


    Quote Originally Posted by kamikaze483 View Post
    Perhaps. The conversation would probably go like this. "Unfortunately, we are letting you go. Good luck in your further endeavors." That could be contrued as either a lay off or a firing. The result would be exactly the same. The employee would no longer work for the company and they would be entitled to UI benefits. At the point that a termination occurs (and a layoff is a termination) the reason no longer matters unless the company has standing to dispute the UI benefits.
    I'm thinking you might be surprised how many workers don't know this, that being given no reason for a dismissal is tantamount to being laid off.

    If the employee is truly being laid-off, the employee should just be told that clearly and explictly.

    If the employee is not being laid-off, the employee should be told that too, clearly and explicitly.

    Such eliminates the confusion that would otherwise be possibly caused.


    Quote Originally Posted by kamikaze483 View Post
    Why wouldn't they file for the benefits if the company did not provide a reason? If there was no reason, lathey should go get their benefits. If it was a lay off, they should go get their benefits. The only way a reasonable person would not pursue the benefits is if they know, already, what the reason for the termination was, even if it wasn't explicitly stated. A person, for instance, may have had several run ins with their supervisor regarding their job performance. It may have been that at the last meeting, the supervisor informed the employee that if their performance did not improve, they would be released. When the termination happens, whether the separation notice gives the reason or not, the employee KNEW the reason, and therefore might not waste their time trying to collect UI.
    Many, many workers simply don't know the "rules" about no-reason-given dismissals meaning laid-off.

    Companies that don't tell people they've been laid off are simply hoping the worker is oblivious on the matter, as that saves the company an increase in their UI payments.

    As to the employee "already knowing" what the reason was for their dismissal, I don't think it's fair for the employee to have to be a mind-reader even if there has been previous inter-personnel conflict. Some of that conflict could have been triggered by the known spectre of pending layoffs.

    We can both create plausible situations to account for dismissals.

    But that doesn't excuse against the need for clearly stated accurate reasons given at the time of the dismissal.


    Quote Originally Posted by kamikaze483 View Post
    Disgruntled terminated employees have a tendency to be angry. If you give them a reason, it may just be that they try to generate "witnesses" within your office, with the intention of attempting to prove that the reason you gave was invalid. For whatever reason, you, as the employer, decided their services were no longer needed. Why would you create this atmosphere of hostility within your company, opening the basis for your decision up for discussion? There is no more discussion needed. They may also, perhaps if they are a minority, attempt to turn a firing for poor performance into a discrimination case, completely lacking in merit, but time consuming and expensive just the same.
    The manager scenario you're presenting here is one where the manager purposely withholds accurate information out of fear that the accurate information in the hands of the dismissed employee will come back to harm the company.

    If there is genuine concern about the specific employee, then the right thing to do is to call in law enforcement during the termination, issue a restraining order, etc.

    But if there is simply concern that the dismissed employee is going to talk with other employees afterward about the truth of why the employee was fired, or that the employee would file a wrongful termination suit based on discrimination of a type, I would contend that is codependently over-controlling in violation of justice for the employee to withhold accurate information from the employee as to the reason(s) the employee was dismissed.

    Though I would understand the manager's concern, the manager's withholding of a reason is still subversion of justice for the employee.

    People are going to talk, and if the dismissed employee has friends at the company who "know" why the employee was dismissed, the company is at greater risk from these people who can fire up a storm of controversy than if they just tell the employee the truth and live with it.

    Thus it behooves a company manager to treat employees fairly while they're there, to not discriminate, to not misconstrue.

    That fair behavior greatly lowers the risk of a post-dismissal repercussion.


    Quote Originally Posted by kamikaze483 View Post
    If you choose to fill out the "reason" section on the separation notice, you better make sure you list ALL the reasons. Not just one. Because even though you are not required to fill it out, if you DO fill it out, you are locked into that being ALL of the information. You can't decide later that there were also other reasons. It just isn't worth it to provide a formal reason.
    Yes, I can understand where the company might be afraid that someone might object to the reason(s) given for dismissal.

    Sometimes, however, it is simply best for all parties that they let go of over-controlling behavior and simply let conflicts happen rather than withhold information justly owed the dismissed employee.

    If a company is afraid of truthful dialogue, though there may be exceptional reasons to bring law enforcement in during a dismissal, for the most part a company's fear is simply that they might get caught doing something wrong.
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  9. #99
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    Re: Should an employer be legally required to have a reason to fire an employee?

    Quote Originally Posted by kamikaze483 View Post
    Although I, honestly, think that the reason is not important- considering the fact that the reason will not (can not) change the result, most companies would have no problem releasing their "reason," if it weren't for one teensy weensy problem: litigation.

    Consider this: Alan owns a trucking company with three trucks and three drivers. Leroy, 74, has driven a truck for Alan for 15 years, averaging about 60K/year in wages during that time. Recently, Leroy was diagnosed with macular degeneration. He is going blind. According to the doctors, his sight will continue to worsen until he is completely blind.

    Because of this, Leroy can no longer drive a truck for Alan (because he can not see to drive.) Leroy's truck route produced 1/3 of Alan's company's income each year. Since Leroy can not drive, Alan is faced with a choice: A) He can terminate Leroy and replace him with a truck driver who has good eyesight, thereby protecting the 1/3 of his income which Leroy's routes generate, or B) he can allow a blind Leroy to remain employed (but obviously not drive, since he is blind). This option would require Alan to hire another driver in addition to Leroy, which (since Leroy makes 60k, and a younger driver could be hired in at 30k) would reduce Alan's profits by 30k each year.

    Because of the substantial loss in profits resulting from option B, Alan chooses to let Leroy go and hire a driver that can actually drive the truck. He sits down with Leroy and explains that he is really sorry, but since Leroy is no longer able to drive the truck, he is being fired. On his separation notice, Alan writes "Employee is terminated due to inability to perform assigned work tasks."

    Leroy, angry with Alan after working with him for 15 years, feels that he has been wronged- that he was being fired because he was aging and no longer able to do the things he used to do. He finds a tort attorney, who promptly sues Alan for discrimination.

    Alan's talks to his attorney, who tells him that because poor eyesight generally comes with old age, Leroy just might have a case- along with the fact that by hiring a younger driver to replace Alan, Alan's profits actually increase by 30k- giving Leroy yet another argument when the trial comes around. So the lawyer's advice to Alan: Hire another 74 year old driver.

    If Alan had not given Leroy the courtesy of providing a reason, his profits would have increased by 30k, and he would have avoided the legal expenses. Leroy was not fired because he was old. He was fired because he couldn't perform his duties. These types of HR/legal nightmares are the reason why employers don't like to provide a reason to the employee.
    yes. because he was getting older and his eyesight was going.

    although it's cute that you think that employees being fired would give up their anger and plans to sue if employers simply told them that they were being fired for a reason, if they then did not agree with that reason. I have a very good friend who works this side of the law - about 10 days on that job are all you would need to thoroughly ground out that level of naive optimism. We Americans are generally a bunch of self-entitled sue-happy people.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bodhisatva
    How about the old Tuetonic saying, "God Wills It!!" ?

    I think that an employer should be able to fire somebody for a just reason without fear of being sued... if it is legally required for them to do so then, unless they are firing you for a racist reason (for example) then they should be free of any law suit that might result from an angry employee.
    I don't think it matters why they are firing them. It is their job, their money. They can do with it what they please.

    The employee should have to do what the rest of us do in order to get money for nothing... fake slip on their property and sue them for faulty grounds...

  10. #100
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    Re: Should an employer be legally required to have a reason to fire an employee?

    Your point of reference -- who owns it -- is clearly libertarian. Here, your political persuasion calibrates your perspective.
    No, it is not libertarian. It is fact, because it is the standard of law. It is, according to the law in my state (I can not speak about other states- I will grant you that some states' laws are more invasive than Georgia's are), a fact that the employer owns the company and the positions within it. I can provide case law if necessary. It is true, though, that as a libertarian I love this law.

    I'm thinking you might be surprised how many workers don't know this, that being given no reason for a dismissal is tantamount to being laid off.

    If the employee is truly being laid-off, the employee should just be told that clearly and explictly.

    If the employee is not being laid-off, the employee should be told that too, clearly and explicitly.

    Such eliminates the confusion that would otherwise be possibly caused.
    Why should they be told this, if, in all practicality (and legality) there is no meaningful difference between the two? And as to whether workers know that they may be entitled to UI benefits, the only obligation the employer has is to post the federally required posters in the breakroom. The process for applying for and obtaining (or not obtaining) UI benefits is a legal, administrative process. I am not a lawyer, so I do not give legal advice. But I do hang the poster in the break room.

    As to the employee "already knowing" what the reason was for their dismissal, I don't think it's fair for the employee to have to be a mind-reader even if there has been previous inter-personnel conflict. Some of that conflict could have been triggered by the known spectre of pending layoffs.
    Skilled leaders make every effort to operate in a corrective way with regard to personnel. It is a shame that the possiblity of litigation due to a sloppily worded separation notice causes there to be a difference between the way a "final warning" meeting is conducted (with the intent to explain and correct) and the termination meeting (with the intent to minimize legal consequences and other negative impact). If not for litigation, good leaders- good people in general would invest in the departing worker, offering them a concise explanation of exactly what they did wrong with the hope that they would learn from their mistakes.

    But that doesn't excuse against the need for clearly stated accurate reasons given at the time of the dismissal.
    What would an employer hope to accomplish by doing this?

    But if there is simply concern that the dismissed employee is going to talk with other employees afterward about the truth of why the employee was fired, or that the employee would file a wrongful termination suit based on discrimination of a type, I would contend that is codependently over-controlling in violation of justice for the employee to withhold accurate information from the employee as to the reason(s) the employee was dismissed.
    Read my post above about the truck driver. You say "codependently over-controlling;" I say "damage controlling." It is much easier to defend a discrimination suit without providing the plaintiff the opportunity to twist your words around. That's why I don't often use too many words in a termination meeting. I only use two.
    Last edited by kamikaze483; 05-03-12 at 09:20 PM.

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